DETROIT -- It won't be Justin Verlander dueling the Yankees in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series after the Tigers' ace went the distance to punch the club's ticket in the win-or-go-home Game 5. But Detroit will be quite comfortable calling on right-hander Doug Fister to start Saturday (8 p.m. ET on TBS) at Yankee Stadium.
Fister has been one of the league's top pitchers since the All-Star break, posting a 2.67 ERA -- the third-best mark in the AL -- while going 8-4 in his final 15 starts of the regular season.
He continued that hot streak in his latest outing, tossing seven innings of six-hit, two-run ball while striking out eight against the Athletics in Game 2 of the AL Division Series.
Key stat: Dominated A's in ALDS, throwing seven innings of two-run ball with eight strikeouts.
Key stat: Has allowed three runs or fewer in 10 of his last 11 postseason starts.
At Yankee Stadium
2012: N/A Career: 1 GS, 0-1, 3.86 ERA
2012: 7 GS, 4-1, 1.85 ERA Career: 35 GS, 17-8, 3.80 ERA
Against this opponent
2012: 1 GS, 2.84 ERA Career: 4 GS, 1-2, 5.18 ERA
2012: N/A Career:23 GS, 10-9, 3.66 ERA
Loves to face: Curtis Granderson, 1-for-6, 1 HR, 4 K Hates to face: Derek Jeter, 5-for-13, 1 2B, 2 RBIs
Loves to face: Gerald Laird, 2-for-10, 3 K Hates to face: Jhonny Peralta, 6-for-16, 3 HR, nine RBIs
Why he'll win: Has been a different pitcher since the All-Star break -- is 8-4 with a 2.67 ERA and 97:24 K/BB over 16 starts.
Why he'll win: Hasn't lost at home since his first start of the season, May 13.
Pitcher beware: Fister went 1-1 with a 6.52 ERA in two starts against New York in the 2011 ALDS and didn't last more than five innings in either game.
Pitcher beware: Tigers hitters have had success vs. Pettitte, hitting .359 with a 1.014 OPS against him in 92 career at-
Bottom line: Tigers have won six of the last eight games he has started.
Bottom line: Is the winningest pitcher in postseason history.
On top of that, the 29-year-old also has experience against the Yankees in the toughest possible situation. He was the guy who battled New York's talented lineup in a winner-take-all Game 5 during last year's ALDS, and ultimately eliminated the Bombers from contention.
Since that game -- when he allowed one run in five innings for his first win -- Fister has had stellar outings in playoff environments. He followed up the performance with 7 1/3 innings of two-run ball against the Rangers in the 2011 ALCS, and nearly mimicked that line vs. Oakland last week.
It should be noted that Fister also started Game 1 of the last season's ALDS in New York, and it wasn't pretty. He was pegged for six runs in 4 2/3 innings and it stands as his only postseason loss.
Due to a variety of injuries, Fister was limited to 26 starts in 2012. As a result, he made only one start against the Yankees in the regular season, despite the teams facing each other 10 times. But it was a solid start.
He yielded eight hits and held New York to two runs in 6 1/3 innings on Aug. 9. He exited in line for the win before home runs by Eric Chavez and Mark Teixeira off Joaquin Benoit stripped that from him.
Almost exactly two months later, Fister gets his second shot. However, this time it won't be played at Comerica Park. This time he heads to the Bronx, where he'll pitch for the first time since that deciding fifth game last October.
Fister will be followed in the rotation by Anibal Sanchez in Game 2, Verlander in Game 3 and Max Scherzer -- still recovering from right shoulder fatigue -- gets pushed back to Game 4.